Body and Blood of Christ C

On this day when we celebrate the great gift of the Eucharist, let us explore what it means by a visit to several tables.

Our first table is described in Luke’s Gospel.  It is the evening and the crowd is refusing to leave a deserted place and the disciples are concerned there is not enough food to feed the gathered throng.  Jesus has then gather into groups of about fifty.  Imagine being in such a group.  What would you be thinking?

Jesus has been feeding you all day with soaring words and his vibrant presence.  So much so that you are literally not worried about where your next meal is coming from.  You will not let pangs of hunger keep you from spending this precious time with Jesus.  But he cares about your hunger.  You wonder what can they do with two fish and five loaves as you settle into your group of fifty?  But as the disciples distribute the food, it becomes astonishingly clear that there is enough; even more than enough.  You eat and are satisfied and there are twelve baskets of leftovers!  You learn something new about this Rabbi.  He is a provider.  He is providence.  He will always ensure, whatever you face, you will have enough.

Let us move to a second table, this time there are only twelve.  It is the Passover meal and the night is thick with danger as the great confrontation between the Jesus and the authorities– the duel between good and evil, has an air of inevitability.   Jesus has one last chance to explain what is about to happen to his bewildered and frightened apostles.  He takes the bread and says. “This is my body.” He takes the wine and says, “This is my blood.”  Now you understand this gift.  It is not his words, as beautiful as they may be.  It is not his actions, as powerful as they may be.  The gift is himself.  He will give over his body on the cross.  He will be poured out so that we might have the forgiveness of sins.  It is his homily on his death and resurrection.  God holds nothing back.

Now to a third table – the altar.  For on that fateful night, he asked then to “Do this in memory of me.” At Passover, when every Jew is steeped in memory, Jesus commands we remember his Last Supper – to recall it and indeed, to re-present it.  Jesus’ desire is not that we re-enact a two thousand year old dinner.  He means to be with us just as was with his apostles that night. The living, giving, pulsating life of Jesus Christ before us now; every bit as much as was with the twelve in Jerusalem.  The gift is meant for forever.  The gift is meant for now.  “Jesus has an eternal, burning desire to be with us and in us. It was not for his own peace but for ours that he extended his arms on the cross. It was not for his own salvation but for ours that he rose from the dead. Deeply embedded in our very being is a desire to be with the God who always desires us. The Eucharist is the fulfillment on earth of that quest.”  (This is my Body, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger – June 2019).

The fourth table takes us beyond this realm, for there is a feast in heaven that does not end.  The citizens of heaven are always at the table of the Lord, delighting in his presence, his glory and his love.  It is the essence heavenly life.  My Mom and Dad are at the table and so are your loved ones. I believe that heaven intersects with earth at the mass.  What we experience for a moment, however clouded it may be, is the clear reality of the saints who have gone before us.  Eucharist is an opportunity to be as close as possible with our loved ones until we are with then forever.

For the fifth table, go home and make every meal an evening with Jesus.  As Bishop Scharfenberger reminds us, we are transformed by the Eucharist, a different person through the intimate encounter of Christ.  Make Christ present at the dinner table with words of love and mercy.  Bring Christ, if you dare, to the lunch table at the school cafeteria (where his peace is desperately needed!)  This past week, our staff served lunch at the Salvation Army, sharing food with Christ, one after another, after another.  I also saw an older friend of mine whose son passed away a few weeks ago.   She said how blessed she was to have her son for 63 years.  How sacred is that table?

We are the body of Christ through the gift of the Eucharist.  Let us bring Christ everywhere and to everyone.